Bead Library: Swarovski Crystal Beads

Swarovski History | Swarovski Crystal Beads

Swarovski History

By Beverly Fernandes

The Swarovski Company has been making the finest lead glass crystal for over 100 years. It began in 1895 when Daniel Swarovski founded Swarovski Crystal with the assistance of Franz Weis and Armand Kossmann. Daniel worked for long years on a precision faceting machine while he worked for his father as a glass and crystal cutter. He was ready to register a patent in 1895. The combination of fine crystal and precision cutting made the Swarovski name famous. The keys to their success were Daniel’s patented precision crystal cutting machine and the their demand for the very finest quality crystal available.

By 1913 the Swarovski Company built their own production plant. It took the years between 1908 and 1913 to perfect the formula for flawless crystal. This was done primarily by Daniel's sons Wilhelm, Friedrich, and Alfred who followed in their father’s footsteps. These crystals were made into flawlessly cut jewelry stones. Their goal was to create the very finest crystal in the world and to meet production demands that were growing every year.

These stone caused quite a stir in the fashion world of the 1920s and demand grew worldwide. The “flapper” fashion for fringed and crystal creations brought about another patent. A ribbon of fabric studded with crystals ready to sewn onto any garment. Fashion designers like Chanel and Schaparelli made costume jewelry not just acceptable but a fashion requirement for every fashion conscious woman of the time.

Aurora Borealis was the next innovation in the crystal fashion world in 1956. Crystals were coated with an almost imperceptible layer of metal to give the stone a rainbow sparkle. Manfred Swarovski, Daniel's grandson worked with Christian Dior to perfect this process.

1977 saw the introduction of a new material and Swarovski branches out to create a new synthetic stone. Cubic Zirconia is the imitation stone that most closely matches a natural stone in sparkle and brilliance. That produced a revolution in the jewelry business and CZ jewelry was all the rage. Anyone could now wear these diamond simulants.

In 1995 Swarovski celebrated 100 years of the world’s finest crystal and opened the “Swarovski Kristallwelten” a manmade grotto filled with the most magnificent crystal creations. Designs from the most celebrated artists were created and put on display in a specially designed “Crystal World” in Wattens, Austria.

Crystal Tattoos were announced in 1999 and now they could be attached directly on the body, no fabric required. Demand for these gems as well as all the other Swarovski products is growing steadily.


Most of the preceding information was found on the Swarovski website;
Swarovski: The Magic of Crystal - Text by Vivienne Becker and Principal Photography by John Bigelow Taylor and Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. The book is a definitive work about the Swarovski family of companies, their products and philosophy.

About the Author

Beverly Fernandes has been beading since 1969. Since moving to Eugene in 1998 Bev has worked primarily with beads, her first loves have always been her husband John and beadwork. Bev works primarily with Japanese Cylinder Beads known as ‘Delicas’. They come in over 600 colors and textures so Bev can practically paint with beads. Most pieces are worked in peyote or gourd stitch, a form of bead weaving that has been found in Egyptian tombs and has since been practiced by nearly every culture that has worked with beads. Beverly has a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. She studies archaeology and bead history.
All article text and photos © Harlequin Beads & Jewelry unless otherwise noted.
Text and photos may not be used without permession from Harlequin Beads & Jewelry.

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In Harlequin's bead library you will find information on the history of beads, how beads are made and how beads have been used throughout the world.

Many articles include a bibliography to provide you with additional resources. Many of the beading books referenced are available at your local library.

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Harlequin Beads and Jewelry specializes in Swarovski crystal, pendants and pearls, Czech glass and seed, Japanese seed and gemstone beads, plus a full selection of stringing supplies and jewelry findings.